From a Widow’s Journey: A Comforting Message from a Weed? God’s Quiet Messengers

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Romans 1:20 (KJV)

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us, and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him.

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year. It brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.

Rev. Billy Graham

Listen with your heart, you will understand.

Pocahontas
On a “me & God” retreat in Cherokee, NC in 2012, not long before God brought Keith back into my life.

I’ve been through a lot of grief in my life, as a lot of us have. But nothing prepares you for the loss of your spouse, the one you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with. I became a widow on August 29, 2020, at 54 years old. This is a message of encouragement, from my heart to yours. I know that with so much tragedy going on in our world right now, we all need all the encouragement we can get. I also know that in my humble service to our Lord, I want to do as Paul told us, when he said we are to “comfort others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). So, with this in mind, I could not just keep this to myself.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me, the places encouragement can come from. I know what you’re thinking…How on earth would you find encouragement from a weed? Yet of all the places it could have come from, that’s what happened on one of my morning walks the other day…

Keith and me at Soco Falls, near Cherokee, 2016

You’re probably thinking I’m one of those eccentrics that think everything “talks” to you. Who knows, maybe we all get that way to a certain extent as we get older. No, I’m not, really. It’s just that, well, to be bluntly honest, becoming a widow during your empty nest years has a way of changing a person. In the now going on three years since I lost my husband, Keith, to Covid, I’ve gone through a lot of changes. I’ve evolved. I guess you could say, in the sometimes unbearably long periods of time spent living alone, I’ve become more quietly attentive. When you live alone, and there is no one left but the dog and the four walls, you quickly find that sometimes, it can seem the walls are closing in on you.

So, I’ve done a lot of thinking, praying, and spending time reading God’s Word. Sure, I’m active in my church, and I do try to spend time with family when I can. But that isn’t always possible when your kids are all spread out, working hard on their college careers and raising their kids. Plus, in addition to all of that, I am a writer, trying to balance all of this with time to work on my books. Yet through it all, it’s during this journey I never expected to be on that I’ve talked to God more, probably more than I ever have. I’ve walked the trails at the local trails park more than I did before. Sometimes just me and my “Gracie Girl”, my four-legged companion (she loves it) go just to walk and enjoy nature. It’s during these times that I have found myself connecting with our Creator more than ever before.

Grace and me, enjoying a day of hitting the trails. She loves it.

In truth, these times just getting out and enjoying God’s creation have been a big part of my healing journey. But it didn’t start out that easily. The first phases of adjusting to this new season were very difficult. I found myself going through some sort of phase of entertaining this never-ending need to go to all the places we’d gone to, do all the things we’d done together, like a part of my mind just couldn’t accept it. But as I gradually realized each time that all that was left was just a huge void by my side where he’d been, or just a cold, empty chair across the table from me, it was only then that I finally began to accept the fact that all I had left were the memories. It’s funny (strange) how it took me going through all of this to get it through my head that he was really gone. Like so many of us, that cold slap in the face of the reality, when it finally hits you, was probably the hardest for me. I finally realized what I had been denying. He’s gone, and he’s not coming back. Yet now, I know it’s only through God’s grace that I was finally able to let go and just learn to be at peace with cherishing the memories.

Now, it’s all crystal clear. That was just my way of processing it all, of finding my way through the long, dark, twisting corridors of the labyrinth of grief, from the initial stages of anger and denial, into the final easing into the acceptance/gratitude phase of it all. Of course, when you’re in denial, it’s like some uninformed child in the back of your poor, grief struck mind thinks that if you keep going to all those places, eating at all the same restaurants, doing all the things you did together, somehow, he’s going to be there, waiting for you. I guess it’s a control thing too, in a way. Same reason that for a long time, I couldn’t stop cooking enough for him. Call it crazy, but, well, we all have our ways of dealing with grief, and that was mine. This is my journey. But now, I know that I was never “alone” in it all. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, promised He would never leave us, nor forsake us, and He meant it (see Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5).

For years, my mother cooked enough for my brother, Charles, whom we lost at 9 years old, when I was 12. It’s as if somehow, that’s part of your mind’s way of finding comfort, because in a sense, it’s your way of “keeping them there with you”. I’m at peace now with it all, though I don’t think the pain will ever truly go away. Yet, by the grace of God, it does become more bearable, as you gradually ease out of that denial phase. Through those much-needed nature trail walks, you do a lot of thinking and talking with God (or just in your own back yard 🙂 ). Over time, as you trust His grace, you finally feel yourself easing into that acceptance/gratitude phase. It’s during these times when I can just shut out the rest of the world, and it’s just “me and God”, as Josh Turner sings in his song, that I feel myself reconnecting with God and His healing power.

Now, I’m just thankful that God gave us another chance. You can read a little of our story here. I’m truly thankful for the precious memories I get to keep, of the time we spent together, and that I know because Jesus was his Lord and Savior, and he left this world with no unforgiveness in his heart, he is with Him.

Three months later, after my husband passed away, we lost my mother, though from different causes. I can tell you, there is no void left in your world quite like the one you feel after your mother is gone. So, at least I am most certainly not alone, as Dad and I are on this journey together. He and Mama were happily married for 56 years. Then too, losing my brother when I was just 12 years old pretty much marred the rest of my childhood. But then, over the years, as I have matured spiritually, God has helped me to see it all from a more positive perspective. I know that my little brother served the Lord all his short life, with all his heart, and I know that I will see him again, as we will all of those who rest in the Lord. We need only search the Scriptures to be comforted in God’s promises on this. His comforting reassurance of those who sleep in Christ being resurrected in the rapture is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Me and my girl, Grace on the trails. My grandsons love her too, as she was theirs before she came to me.

Trail walks are great, and a weekend or day trip to the beach or the mountains, even better. But we need only look right in our front yard for God’s messengers. His creation is all around us, speaking volumes to us about His promises. Yet it is sometimes only in the face of the most unbearable tragedies and storms of life, when we have suddenly found ourselves alone, that we finally begin to notice these quiet messengers. It is only then that we will finally begin to hear what our Creator has been trying to tell us all along. If you only learn how to quiet yourself and look around, you’ll see that all of His creation speaks volumes to us. We have only to learn how to listen, not with our ears so much as with our heart.

So, it is with this perspective that I want to share with you the powerful message I felt emanating from this humble little messenger, a simple weed, in a simple moment of quiet listening with my heart. Of course, I heard no words. After all, we know weeds can’t really “talk” (oh, but the stories they could tell if they could). Yet I knew the words reverberating into my being, like water to a parched soul, were being translated from the Creator Himself, the One Who made it. It went something like this:

“I’m just a weed. I’m not a big, fancy flower, just a humble dandelion weed, with all my plain, simple pedals already fallen off. I’ll soon be gone. If they mow the grass tomorrow, it will be quicker, but don’t worry, it will be painless.

However my time here ends, in that moment, my brief life will be over. But if you are standing here in this moment, seeing me still here in all my humble simplicity, then my short time gracing this earth will not be in vain, for you see, it is our Creator, God, the Father that made us both, Who knew you would come along today and see me. So, it was He Who placed me here with this simple message I am giving you now.

It was Jesus Himself Who put me here, knowing you would walk by in this moment, carrying the deep wounds of grief and sadness you have endured. You see, I cannot walk as you can. I can only stand here, planted in this one spot until my time is over. But you can, so He walks with you and leads you. It was He Who put it in your heart to take that walk this morning, wasn’t it? He knew I couldn’t come to you, so He had to lead you to me, so that before my time was up, I could deliver His message to you.

You see, the message isn’t really from me. It’s from Him. I’m only the messenger He chose to convey it to you. No, I’m not a big, beautiful red rose, a pure, white lily, or even a simple daisy. I’m no stately sunflower, or pretty daffodil. Just a plain old weed, but I am still His creation. We’ve been hated, dug up, poisoned, and most of the time, we grow in all the wrong places. I’ve stood through many storms, and even been trampled on. Yet, I had a purpose for being here, because He saw you, and knew you would need this message.

I’m only a plain, simple weed, a dying weed flower that only blooms for a short time. But I have survived. Through His grace, I survived through it all, just to be here for you this morning, to give you the message He gave me for you. If you’re still standing here, you have survived too. He had a reason for you to still be here right now. You haven’t gone through your storms alone, for He’s been right there, walking by your side through it all.

He loves you so much, He even sent the Savior to die for you and take the punishment for your sins so you could be with Him in Heaven one day. That’s how special you are to Him. You mean so much more to Him than I do, and you are more precious to Him than all those birds singing. I don’t hear them, because He didn’t give me ears. I don’t see them, because He didn’t give me eyes. I don’t even feel the joy and peace their songs can bring you, because He didn’t give me a heart. But you can, because He made you in His image, and He gave you those gifts. So don’t take them for granted.

So, if you mean so much more to Him that I do, and even more than those birds singing, and He brought me through all of the storms I’ve faced just to be here for you, then how much more will He not also carry you through your storms by His divine grace and never-ending mercy?

I’ll be gone soon. I probably won’t be here when you come back. It was just in this moment, this one special moment that will never come again, that He chose for you to be here and planned your steps so you would see me. That’s why He chose this exact spot and placed me here. You see, He kept me through all the rain, the wind, and the storms, just so I could deliver this message to you…

before I’m gone.

With all the love from our Creator’s heart, just for you,

A humble weed.

Well, there you have it. That’s just about as plain and clear as it gets. It speaks volumes to us all, about our wonderful Heavenly Father’s infinite wisdom and unlimited power to use any and all of His creation, in any way He chooses, to speak to us if we only learn how to listen. Actually, dandelion tea has some health benefits. if you’d like to do your own research on that. So, as it turns out, that pesky weed that is hated by so many, has its good qualities. I enjoyed a nice, hot cup of it this morning. Now, every time you sip a cup of it, I hope you will remember this message our Lord chose this humble dying dandelion to give us.

As I said, we must learn to listen with the heart if we are ever to learn to hear Him. After all, it only makes sense that if He created it all, then He can use any of it to speak to us. It’s speaking volumes all around us, just as the above Scripture verse at the beginning of this post says. But don’t just take my word for it. Jesus Himself had this to say…

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)

I’ve included a video for you below, with a song by Gordon Mote that I hope will bring you some comfort. Keith and I were blessed to sing with our church choir, accompanying him on 3 of his songs, when he came to our church, about a year before we got sick. Finally, I would like to offer up this prayer for you, spoken by Paul in Ephesians:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-18

God, our loving Heavenly Father is heralding the wonderful news of His perfect love, grace, healing, comfort, encouragement, and salvation all around us. He has embedded the messages of His promises in all His creation. It’s literally being blasted all throughout the universe. But take it from one who knows. It is only when the noise of the world is finally quieted, sometimes in ways we would have never wanted, that we will finally hear it. Are you listening?

One of the local trail parks in our area that Keith and I used to visit

I hope that this message has brought you some comfort in whatever way grief has touched your life. I also hope and pray that if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will accept His invitation to walk with you and guide you by asking Him into your heart today. If you have been encouraged by this message, please feel free to share with someone you know who needs His message of comfort and love.

In Christ’s service,

From a widow‘s journey

Life Lessons: “In Season and out of Season”: the Path to Life’s Greatest Gifts

“And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’.” – Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

So, November 2nd was my 57th birthday. My last day being 56 had its high points and low points. After my doctor’s appointment in town earlier, I had the blessing of being led to the Waffle House, where my pastor’s wife’s dear parents were just leaving.

Her mother has been in the hospital. They are precious to us all, and they have weathered a lot of storms. So, after speaking with them and praying with them before they left, I stayed at their table and had a little breakfast and devotional time. What a treat to run into them. It really brightened my day. But that was only the calm before the storm…

As if right on cue, after I’d almost finished eating and reading my devotions, some people came in with an elderly gentleman. I could tell they were having a bit of a rough time with him. Sadly, I let my guard down and just got up, paid, and left without being the more compassionate light of Christ that I should have been. I’d been focused more on my quiet experience being ruined, rather than being willing to just tighten it up and perhaps offer a little encouragement. I felt so bad about it for the rest of the day that it began to just eat away at me like a cancer. Before I realized what I had done, I had let my “mask” slip off. Only after I had left did I realize what a hypocrite I had just been. I had just betrayed my Master. I’d been tested, and I had failed.

As I drove home, I prayed my humble prayer of repentance to God and asked Him for a chance to make it up to Him. In the next few minutes, I got my prayer answered. As I pulled into my parking space at home, He laid it strongly on my heart to go on to the Walgreen’s to pick up my prescriptions, seeing as I tapped into the app, that they were ready.

It was on the way back home that it happened. I don’t like trying to get out onto Main St. in our little “Mayberry” town of Benson via the road beside McDonald’s as it’s practically impossible, so I will often drive around a back way. So, on my way back, I drove past the park and pulled up to the stop sign just in time to look over and see a man get hit by a woman coming out the back driveway from the McDonald’s. Who knows what could have been distracting her that she didn’t see him. I certainly was in no position to point fingers at her.

I watched as he fell and hit the pavement. I quickly pulled over off the road and ran over there to see if I could help. In just that few minutes after it happened, people came together, trying to calm him and see about him as the ambulance was called and the police arrived to direct traffic. I did the only thing I knew I had been sent to do. I knelt down and spoke to him reassuringly, as the others were doing, trying to keep him calm and still as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. Then I began to pray for him. As the emergency workers arrived and took over, I quietly eased back into the background and left them to do their job. My job was done, and my prayer answered.

Now, stepping into my 57th year on this earth, I can clearly look back and see the ways, the Father has provided these “training experiences” to help me and guide me on my journey to greater spiritual maturity. Lesson learned. I’m sharing this because I have a feeling, I am not the only one who has had one or more of these slip ups. We are human. We all mess up. We have all failed at one time or other. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But thankfully, we have a loving Heavenly Father Who is ready to forgive us and welcome us with open arms if we are only willing to humbly acknowledge our wrong, repent of it, and receive the forgiveness His Son, Jesus Christ died to give us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So, I messed up. As we all have. But if you’re still breathing, it’s not too late to make a turn around. Now, as the Thanksgiving and Christmas season approaches, I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of these hurting and less fortunate people. Y’all, this is the stuff miracles are made of. But the enemy wants us to be all wrapped up in ourselves, or with our noses stuck in our phones, and miss them.

I speak to myself on this, as well as for all of us, when I say, we can do better. I know I can. If He places them in our path, it’s because He sees the potential in us to somehow be a blessing to them. We will always fail Him when we make it about ourselves, as I did that day. It’s not about us. It’s about learning, as we mature in Him spiritually, to rejoice when He sends us someone to bless.

So, maybe we can all work together and help each other with this. We will fail sometimes. But it’s when we are willing to admit it and let Him help us learn from it that we will be blessed in greater ways than we could ever imagine. So, let’s look up from our distractions, especially this busy holiday season, and pay attention to that pedestrian who may be homeless or unable to drive (because we all know it could have just as easily been one of us behind that wheel instead of her). Let’s pray for others instead of judging them (see Matthew 7:1-5). And let’s look for ways to be a blessing to the hurting around us (as I should have done), instead of merely seeing them as interruptions to our busy schedules or our “quiet time”. In being obedient to Him when He gave me a second chance, He showed me that I was not the only one who failed Him that day. And just like that, I felt a year’s worth of spiritual maturity as I woke up to my 57th year on this earth the next morning.

This season, and always, may we all be more “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2) and strive to not only love those in our own little “glory huddles” (quote credit: Cara Whitney, Author, “Unbridled Faith: 100 Devotions from the Horse Farm”), but also those poor, hurting souls He places in our path. In Matthew 5:46-48, Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

May we humbly seek His readily available grace and forgiveness when we fail. Most importantly, may we never forget that our gracious and loving Father will always give us another chance when we ask Him. After all, some of our greatest blessings and unexpected gifts in this life often come in disguise. You won’t miss them if you look in the right places. They’re the ones that can’t be wrapped.

Being Alone for a Season: Trusting the Clock Maker

There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s Kingdom. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don’t let me go mad by poking about outside it. ~ Corrie ten Boom.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” – Psalm 40:1-2

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”- Psalm 27:14

“Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;…But those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” – Psalms 37: 5-7a, 9b (NKJV)

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:8-11

I’ve been “alone” for two years now. When I say “alone”, I don’t mean totally alone, because I know my Heavenly Father is always with me. But August 29th, 2022 marked two years since my precious husband passed away. Now, as the fall and Holiday seasons approach, I am looking around and seeing more and more people who have suddenly found themselves alone. For another powerful and thought-provoking post I did on this a few years ago, click here.

Sometimes, we question separations – seasons of life when someone’s part in our story may be over, and it can be hard to WAIT on God during these times. We tend to jump in and try to fix it ourselves when He doesn’t move on our timetable (I get into this some in my book). Sometimes, especially when it involves family or friends you had come to trust, it may only be for a season. But it is especially hard when it is a permanent separation, as in divorce, loss of a job, or the death of a loved one. Yet, for whatever reason, we have entered a season of being, or feeling, alone.

As far as temporary separations, I have come to think of it like Corrie ten Boom and her father must have thought of an old clock, or watch. Sometimes, our perfect, all-knowing Heavenly Father has to take the “clock” apart, fix the parts that are broken, and then, in His way and His perfect time, put it back together.

We will always mess up when we try to put our hands in there and “fix” it ourselves. It is in these seasons of temporary separations that we must learn to sit still and trust His process, wait on His perfect timing, and keep our eyes and our focus on Him. We need to use this time to pray and grow closer to Him and ask Him to help us learn what it is He is trying to teach us. Everything else will come together at the perfect time He has chosen (See Matthew 6:33).

As far as the more permanent separation, as in the passing of a loved one, or other circumstances in which you have suddenly found yourself alone, it may seem you can only think of your life like a broken watch or clock that is beyond repair. I know because that’s how I’ve felt many times after my sweet husband passed away, and my dear mother only 3 months later. And I know what I watched my parents go through in the years after we lost my brother, Charles, at only 9 years old, when I was 12. I know the void that it left in my life, growing up without him.

It is during these seasons of finding ourselves alone, broken, and hurting that we can only surrender the broken pieces to Him, our Heavenly Father, and trust Him to turn what the enemy meant to destroy us into a powerful testimony for His glory.

Trust the “Clock Maker” – He knows exactly what He’s doing. After all, only He can see what the broken pieces can be when He puts them back together as only He can. And only He can see whether another broken “watch”, or “clock” somewhere else may have a part that can help yours. Somewhere, someone else is going to be going through what you have gone through, and you have the strength and wisdom you have learned that can help them. Perhaps it helps to remember that He made us all, and He knows the perfect ways we can work to help each other, just as the “Clock Maker” knows that if He made all of the watches, or clocks, then He knows exactly how the parts can work interchangeably.

He has it all timed perfectly if we only trust Him. Your season is coming, right on time. You may feel broken beyond repair, but you can trust the “Clock Maker” who created you and knows just what it will take to fix you. You might not ever be exactly the same as you were before, but when you trust Him to complete the healing and repair process as only He can, it is then that you will be fully prepared and equipped to be His instrument to help repair others who are broken and fulfill a purpose that only He knows.

It may seem you are alone for now, but He is always there, watching over His own, and promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. He knows the plans He has for you, just as the watch maker knows the potential he sees for that one watch that seemed beyond repair. He not only knows the plans He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11), He’s already there.

If He made you, then He knows how to fix you. Trust the Clock Maker. After all, if you belong to Him, and you are walking with our precious Jesus, then you were never really “alone” after all. It only seems that way while He is gently repairing you as only He can, so that He can then use you to help Him fix another “broken watch”. After all, you might have just the part He needed. But you will never know until you surrender all those broken pieces to Him and simply trust Him. Who else could possibly understand the unfathomable concept of perfect timing better than the Great Clock Maker Himself, our Creator and Heavenly Father, Who knew the plans He had for us to begin with (Psalms 139:13-16) long before time began? ⌚⏰🕰⏱🕊🍁🍂

20 Years Later…Remembering 9/11, Lighting the Candle of Hope #9/11 #WeWillNotForget

So here we are, 20 years later, remembering the horrific act of terrorism that shook our nation and left us all in a state of shock as we grieved those who were lost, as well as the brave emergency responders who gave their lives trying to save them. This is adapted from my original post a few years ago, and although a lot has changed since then, some things will never change. Among them, the power of our unchanging God, the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Light in our hearts, and the truth of His Holy Word. Mine is only one story. What’s yours? What if we all lit someone else’s candle?

“Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we’ve come back to remember the valor of those we lost–those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve for them, and the light that still lives in their hearts” –New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the World Trade Center site in 2006

 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:12

September 11, 2001. One of the darkest days in American history. According to Wikipedia, 2,996 people were killed immediately, including those on the four planes, the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and the Pentagon. Many more have since died, due to their injuries, or cancer from inhaling the toxic dust. Of course, this number varies, depending on what source you read it from, and when it was written. One thing is for certain: it was a terrible, dark day for all of us, especially those who lost loved ones that day. We must never forget, but continue to reach out to one another, to pray for the families who lost their loved ones, and, to hold the light of hope in our hearts as we remember those we lost that day. And lest we forget, here is just my little contribution, a little of where I was when “the world stopped turning” on that terrible “September day”…

I was less that 2 months from turning 36. My children were 15, 13, and 9. I was working at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Clayton, NC, at what we around here call the Hwy 40/42 area (where NC Hwy 42 intersects with I-40, which goes into Raleigh, NC). I was just about to turn onto I-40, going to work, when I heard something on the radio about a “plane crash”. Of course, mostly concentrating on my driving, at that point, I had no idea of the seriousness of what I was hearing. At work, around the store, the atmosphere was somber. There was just a strange quietness. As my customers all kept talking about it throughout the day, it was only then that I began to realize just how serious it was. I went home and for the next couple of days, all I could do was sit in front of the TV, my eyes glued to the screen, and my mouth open, in a state of shock. As the days and weeks passed, I remember I was literally scared. I was scared to death, especially in the first few days after the attacks, as I think no doubt, everyone was. Were they going to come here and attack us next? Would there be more attacks?

As the years passed, my kids grew up and my daughters now have kids of their own, my youngest is now working on her 2nd masters, and teaching Intro to Psych at ECU. Things changed, people have moved on, I’ve gone through a couple of divorces, lost my husband and high school sweetheart, Keith, to Covid, and survived it myself as well as breast cancer by God’s grace. Our family has lost a few more members over the years, and there have been a few new additions as well. I have since completed an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which has provided me skills that have helped me tremendously with my writing. I’ve published 3 books, (though I discontinued the first 2), and started my own imprint. The new 35th Anniversary Revised Edition of my latest, CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door (Resuscitating the Christian Heart…Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!) is available on Amazon in print and Kindle, and in eBook in these online stores. More books are coming as the good Lord leads me.

Yet, every year at this time, I cannot help but think of the sadness this day always brings, especially to those who lost family members or friends in this horrible, cowardly attack on the American people. After all, they were not lost to just their families or friends; they were lost to all of us. Over 3,000 families are still grieving those they loved who were killed that day. All those people spent that last evening of September 10, 2001, with their families and loved ones, never knowing it was their last night with them. They got up and went to work that morning with no idea of what was coming. They sent their children off to school that next morning and kissed them goodbye for the last time. Those on the planes had to call or text their loved ones, in tears as they faced the shock of explaining to them that they knew they were about to lose their lives. I could go on, but there is no room here…

I’m sure what most of us may have been through pales drastically in comparison to what the victims of the events of 9/11 experienced that day. The scars will be on the hearts of their surviving family members for the rest of their lives. Even though for us, life went on, for them, every year, this day is a dark reminder when all the painful memories come flooding back. Yet all of us have “a story”. You may not think it’s much to offer, but a story left unshared will not help anyone. It’s not what we’ve been through, or who’s been through the worst tragedy, or even who may be hurting the worst. It’s the power of healing that comes from sharing the Light of Christ’s love with others who are hurting. It’s the knowing that no matter what any of us have suffered, His love and healing, restoring power is greater and stronger than any of it. It’s the candle of hope that lights up from one heart to the next as we each share what He has done for us and help them to understand the ways that same healing power can help them.

So wherever you are, if you can tell your story, or light a candle, write a book, or even just write your testimony in a tract or blog post, or just say a prayer for the families and friends of each one of the people who were lost that day, then the light of hope will start to flicker, then burn brightly, into an eternal flame of hope. It is the hope that unites the American people. Because when you mess with any of our people, you are messing with all of us. Jesus told us that in the last days, these tribulations would come…

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:3-14

…But we must remain strong, encourage one another, pray for one another, and share our story, however little or great it might be, and we must begin to link hands all across this once great nation, and form a chain of prayer, and let the light of hope flicker, becoming the eternal flame of that hope that unites us all, and stand strong. It is that hope that will help us “endure to the end”, and perhaps relight the candle of hope, for those who have lost it. I guess you could say it’s kind of like, if each of us shares a little of our story, maybe it’s kind of like all of us lighting a “candle” in memory of those who were lost that day, as well as those who have died since from their injuries or sickness caused by the toxic dust and fumes from the disaster, etc. Perhaps, even if but a small flicker of hope arises from one of us sharing our story, it becomes the eternal flame of hope that will light someone else’s way. To me, it is like saying, I am only one person, but I am here, and I care, because to me, each precious life that was lost that day was an American citizen, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, and the list goes on.

A lot has happened in the 20 years since that dark day. Covid has taken many of those we loved, including my husband. Only 3 months later, strokes took my precious mother. Cancer and other things have taken many others. Still, so many who have been left behind are left feeling the pangs of grief, depression, and hopelessness, and too often, we have left them to wonder if anyone cares, because too many times, we let the enemy trick us into feeling we are too far gone or traumatized to help anyone else. Jesus knew we would have tribulations in this time, and He had this to say…

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There is a kind of healing we ourselves can experience in allowing God to use our own pain to help others, and Jesus knew this. If we look at the bigger picture, as we trust in Him and wait on Him to renew our strength as Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, we will find ourselves “mounting up with wings as eagles”, and soaring high above the storms, just as they do. Only then will we find ourselves rising above the storms our Lord said we would endure in these days before His return and discovering the peace He promised us that is out of this world (See John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7). Once we do, if His love is in us, we won’t want to keep it to ourselves, but we will take that Light that is in our hearts and light someone else’s candle with it. Just think of what a better world we could make it if each of us did that. After all, it’s been said that a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle.

I know this is more of a Christmas seasonal song, but I still felt the message was perfect for what I am trying to say here. May we never forget the victims of that terrible day, the children who had to grow up without parents and all of those who lost someone they loved that day. May we each light a candle of Christ’s love and reach out to those who are hurting, say a prayer for those whose families were forever broken that day, and all we have lost since. Whether it’s through this senseless attack on our nation, or Covid, Cancer, or something else that has caused the loss of someone you love, let us remember that we have all lost someone. We have all suffered in these times we are going through, and our Lord, Jesus said it would be this way. But if we remember, our God has not surrendered His authority, nor fallen off His throne, He is still in control, and according to the last page of my Bible, He wins, then we know that if we are on His side, we are on the winning side!

Where were you that September day? What will you do to help light someone else’s candle of hope today? After all, if we have the Light of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in us, then it is not our own light we are sharing with them, but a part of His Light. And that Light is sufficient to cover us all. It is ours for the asking, and the peace that comes with it is out of this world. He said so Himself.

Masks in the Church: Part 1 – The Masks We Hide Behind

“Life is but a masquerade ball. No one is ever really who they say they are, but sooner or later, the masks come off.”

Okay, I made that up, although if anyone else has ever said it, I don’t know who they are.) I have said at one time in the past that I had considered having these words put on my tombstone (Now, I know better). Still, if you think about it, there is a lot of truth in that.

A while back, I did a post on Facebook about “Masks”, and how many of us as Christians have hidden behind them for too long. With all that we have going on now, with the Covid 19 Pandemic, and other signs that Christ warned us about happening all around us, I have felt led to visit this topic again.

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&Nsee more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&N, see more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

Are We Hiding Behind Masks?

For too many of us, the ways we have adapted to the ways satan (no, I won’t capitalize his name) uses our past to control us and define us, we have allowed it all to cause us to develop this hardened outer layer of ourselves, all while trying to put on a fake outer front, or “mask”, a false facade for others, while inside, we slowly languish in our own self made “prison”, instead of trusting Christ to set us free.

Before I go on, I’m just going to “get real” with you myself. I recently found myself going through a trial that forced me to take my own “masks” off and get real with God, and with myself, and others. On July 17, 2020, I tested positive for Covid 19. Although I am mostly recovered, as I write this, my husband is in the hospital with it. This whole trial has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself in the “mirror” of God’s Word, and gone deeper in prayer and repentance myself than ever before, and I didn’t like what I saw…

If we as the Church are not careful and diligent to pray and seek Him and study His Word every day, the enemy will fool us into continuing to wear those masks and waste this life away drifting along in the world’s masquerade ball. His evil plan for us is that we will waste the precious life God has given us, hiding behind these masks and missing out on the real, true power of Jesus Christ and the plans He has for each of us to make a difference in this lost and dying world. Ultimately, as long as we let him fool us into living with this deception, he knows we will never truly bear fruit for Christ’s Kingdom, or complete His will for us, and that we will hear those three dreaded words that are more frightening even than dying from Covid 19: “Depart from Me…”

Types of Masks We Wear…

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

We have all worn “masks” in too many different ways. “Selfish ambition” is one (see Phillipians 2:3-8). I wore that one for too long. Now, I know that the work I have been called to do for Him is more important than whether, as a writer, I ever make that coveted New York Times Best Seller List (By the way, “coveting” is a form of idolatry.). The attractions of wealth, material possessions, and fame are no longer important to me (see Matthew 6:19-34 and 1 Timothy 6:6-14), but what He is getting ready to do through me, and the souls I will win for Him, those I will encourage because I can say, I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there.

“Approval Addiction” is another one I hid behind for way too long (Joyce Meyer has a book on this) because of years of emotional abuse I suffered because of the choices I made. For too long, I was a prisoner of my past, controlled by the need for approval, constantly obsessed about and controlled by what people thought of me, the need to “fit in”. Even worse, I wasn’t really reaching out to others because of how worthless and insignificant I felt deep down inside. That only continued to feed that old monster weed of my insecurities, caused by that need for others’ approval. If you are going to serve Christ, you must be willing to be set apart! (See Phillipians 3:7-9.) Then, there’s the old, “I’m okay, I’m not really depressed” mask, you know, the one many of us wear to church. There are countless others. “Denial” is one many of us have struggled with.

Other examples of “masks” we can tend to hide behind are, “tolerance” and “political correctness” (Careful! Are we not denying Christ, as Peter did, by doing this?). Too many times, we as Christians have tried to “blend in” to society, when God calls us to stand out! We have let the devil trick us into wearing these masks, but they only keep us from seeing who we really are in Christ, and who He has called us to be.

Taking off the Masks – Who has God Called You to Be?

So, take a few minutes to start each day together with God’s word, pray for Him to show you the “masks” you may have been hiding behind, then ask Him to remove them and help you let go of the need to build false facades, “release” it all to Him, and speak the Word over your marriage, your family, and your finances. Make the decision today to “get real” and pray and agree on that Word God gives you together (see Matthew 18:19-20), and I can assure you, you will begin to see changes in your prayer life, your spiritual walk with God, and your marriage and family relationships.

I can honestly tell you right now, today, for me, those chains have been broken! The masks have fallen off! They are gone! I am FREE in my new identity in Jesus Christ, my Lord (also in that section in Phillipians 2:1-15, about seeking to have the mind of Christ).

If this series the Holy Spirit has laid upon my heart to share with you helps you somehow to take a closer look at your own life, and see, through His loving guidance, what masks you may have been wearing, then it will have achieved its purpose. After all, it is not me, but Him, lovingly calling out to you now, while there is yet time for us to make a difference. I am only the hands that typed the words you are reading here. I am only His willing vessel, one who has been broken in many ways, but He saved me, delivered and healed me, and I have answered His call to help as many as I can, just as I hope you have.

With this pandemic we are all facing now, we can only work together, pray and show our appreciation to all of those front line workers who are bravely doing their jobs to take care of us, and pray for those who are sick. The truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. The path to prayerfully seeking His guidance to help us take the masks off that too many of us have worn for too long, and show us the plans He has for each of us to make an impact for His Kingdom is a journey each of us must take on our own. We can only work, love, and pray together, now, as never before, and believe in the miracles He wants to do in our lives.

There is Hope for You…

Covid 19 is not an automatic death sentence. Many have recovered, and gone on to appreciate the things in life they took for granted before. I am one of them, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But if your time should come, and your name isn’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you haven’t accepted our Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then after your last breath will be too late. You will have just allowed the devil to punch your ticket to the Masquerade Ball of no return.

Jesus loves each of us, so much He died for us to have a more abundant life of hope and fulfillment, leading others to Him. I hope you will accept Jesus as Lord of your life today. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all it takes is a simple prayer, and to believe in Him with all your heart, in total surrender to Him. If you’re ready to take that step, click here, and allow my 12 year old self to tell you how. (That got ya thinking, didn’t it? 🙂

 

What Will Your Choice Be?

I wore many masks for a long time, but thankfully, I have been set free by the power of Jesus Christ. I am no longer chained to the past. I gave my ticket to that masquerade ball the enemy had me going to for too long to my Lord and Savior, my Jesus. He took it and ripped it up and gave me a new hope and a new life. Right now, I am taking it one day at a time as we recover from this, and praying for healing for my sweet hubby. Again, none of us are promised tomorrow. But I can tell you this much: I’m done wearing any of those dumb, ugly masks. I know now that God truly cares about what we’re hiding behind that mask, and that the truth has set me free (John 8:32,36, and 14:6) just as it will set you free. I know that each new day I wake up with the breath of life He gave me in my lungs, I will praise Him with it, and never take it for granted again. I don’t want to be the person I was before all of this. I want now, more than ever before to strive to reach my full potential of what He has called me to do.

Which will you choose? Will you continue to be a part of the problem, as many of us have been for too long, or will you choose to make a great impact for the Kingdom of Christ? The clock is ticking for every one of us. Thankfully, we have a loving Savior Who standing there at the door of our hearts, waiting to come in and help us “get real”, with Him, and with those we will reach for Him. Now, let this song minister to your heart…

Have You Checked Out My New Book?

If you haven’t, be sure to check out my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, as I mentioned above. It has my testimony of my near death experience in a car accident in November of 1985, what I have learned since, and has been written as an encouraging message of faith, especially for those who have been through traumatic events and have felt like giving up. In the book, I also talk about throwing off the excess baggage from the past so you can sail forward to God’s wonderful plan for your life. I feel in any case, that it will help enrich your walk with Him, but it should by no means take the place of studying God’s Word. Jesus is the Lighthouse. I am only a flashlight to point the way to Him.

Know Someone Who Could Use This?

If you know someone who would be encouraged by this information, please share! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to hit that ‘Subscribe’ tab so you won’t miss my next post in this series, and so you will be among the first to know about my upcoming new books. Now, let’s throw those masks out and start building the Kingdom together!

“Cookie Cutter” Authors or Writers for the King: Breaking the Mold as Christian Writers #ChristianWriters #ChristianAuthors

Am I a “Cookie Cutter” Author?

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Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

“Cookie Cutter Authors?” You ask. What on earth do you mean by that? Well, let me try to explain. I will admit first off, that my first two books didn’t quite measure up to NYTBS list material. As a matter of fact, there probably aren’t many of us authors whose first books will make that highly coveted list. That doesn’t mean we give up of course. We simply learn from those experiences and become better writers. If yours haven’t done well either, don’t feel bad. Hey, we cut our “writers’ teeth” on those first books, and if we had never written them in the first place, we might never have come to be writers. We have to crawl before we can walk, right? That said, even though we may come from small beginnings, I have now been in this business long enough to know a few things. So, grab some coffee, sit down, and let’s talk about this.

Genre Expectations: Are Readers getting bored?

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have well learned, at least at this point, that there are certain expectations for each genre that readers expect to see. (By the way, for any of you fellow authors still struggling to pin down a genre for your book, or just needing a brush up on the whole genre thing, check this handy Book Genre Finder site out.) Put a book in a wrong genre that’s not the right fit for it, and it will likely result in negative reviews. Thus, my coining the term “Cookie Cutter Authors”, if someone hasn’t already beat me to it. Hey, we can do that, we’re writers. 😉 Too often, this has caused increased pressure on us as authors to put out what our readers want to read. But more and more lately, I am seeing articles and posts with comments from readers saying they have begun to tire of what seems like the same story repeated in numerous books within a given genre, and the same, typical, even stereotyped characters, only the names, places, and scenes have changed. While many readers may continue to expect books they read to fit into those expectations, there are also a good number of them out there who have become bored with the same old scenarios repeated in books by authors trying to fit the old cookie cutter molds. It’s time for us to break the molds of pleasing the world, and write to please Him.

So, What’s Your Point?

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Image by Elien Smid from Pixabay

So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is this: There are too many Christian authors these days who have failed to “stand out” as Christ called us to do, for fear of “offending” their readers, and losing sales. They fall for the deception of writing what readers expect, to the point of settling for compromising, even sacrificing what our Lord expects of us as the writers He has called us to be. They have chosen to “blend in” rather than stand out for Him. I am at the point, I can no longer settle for just being one of these cookie cutter authors, just spitting out generic stories that “fit” into what the world wants to read. As a Christian author, I must answer the call to stand out and make a difference, to write that one unique story that’s not a “cookie cutter” copy of 800 others, but one that might just inspire its readers to change their lives for the better. We as Christian authors will not do that by “blending in”. There will never be a time that the money, riches, and fame this world has to offer will be worth more to me than what my precious Savior has called me to write.

A Choice to Make: Pleasing the World or Reaching Readers for Christ

So, for most of us who are Christian writers, it looks like we’ve come to a “fork in the road”. Every one of us has a choice to make. I know that for those of us who choose to represent the King, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in our writing, it will likely mean that we may never see our books rise to popularity by the world’s standards. But then, I am no longer writing to please the world, but my Lord. If even one of my books somehow touches someone’s heart and inspires them to change their life for the better, maybe even accept Him as Lord and Savior, then it will all have been well worth it.

Avoiding the Idolatry of Selfish Ambition

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Up until now, I have mainly worked on fiction, and, until now, like many other authors, I had aspirations of making that “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” list. That is, until God began to continually lead me to Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4, which says (NKJV): “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The more that began to sink in, the more I have come to realize, through the intense spiritual awakening that has followed, that it is no longer important for me to make that “list”. I no longer subscribe to the covetous, selfish ambitions of worldly fame and recognition, or even the desire to maybe see my books made into movies. Coveting all those things more than the work God wants to do through my writing, and the people He wants to reach through my work falls under something the word of God explicitly warns us against: idolatryAm I saying that’s a bad thing (Making the NYTBS List)? No, of course not! And if I ever do make it, wonderful! And if you are an author or know one with at least one book on that list, let me be the first to congratulate you, or even the 59th person to do so. Please understand here, that I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. Not at all. I am just saying that I will no longer covet this above the difference God has called me to make and the plan and purpose that He has for me with the books He has given me to write (see Colossians 3:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:18).

God has really begun to drive this important truth home to me more than ever before. He recently spoke to me and said, “ANYTHING you put before ME becomes an idol!” He also warned us that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:10-12). For too long, we have put on the “masks” of tolerance, political correctness, etc, and chosen to “blend in” to society, rather than stand out for Christ. I will no longer blend in, but I choose to stand out for Him, and help people see that what He has done for me, He will do for them. I choose to believe He is faithful and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6), and my work from this point onward will reflect that.

Oh sure, it would be easy to tailor my stories around “what the world wants to see”, and what will guarantee me a spot on that coveted list, but when I think of the price tag that is attached to that deceptive “selfish ambition”, no thank you! What my Lord and Savior did for me on Calvary is deserving of no less than my all for Him, and the complete surrender of those things I once considered important, for His will for me instead, and the lives He wants to touch through me. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul says, “ But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” His will, and what He wants to do through it all, and my testimony reaching more readers through my work for Him is much more important now than the selfish ambition I held on to in the past. All of that other stuff is no longer important.

Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Indeed, the lure of worldly fame and recognition is the greatest illusion ever perpetrated on humanity by the deceiver we all know as the devil. Even my fiction work is now undergoing a huge “face lift”, as I re-evaluate my projects and seriously seek Him to show me how to write works that line up with the message He wants me to project to my readers. I will still, of course, do all I can to maintain the professional standards expected of any of us as writers, but at the same time, I will not compromise to the world’s standards (see 1 Corinthians 10:21 and Matthew 6:24). I want to be that one that’s different from the others.

God’s Version of Success: Choosing the Hidden Rewards of Writing for Christ

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Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

I know that conflict and tension have to be there in order for readers to appreciate the big, powerful, “Wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming” conclusion when it ends. But we as Christian writers can do this without sacrificing our God-given purpose and perspective. There may even be “pre-Christian” characters in my stories, or characters representing the hurting, lonely, and struggling. My soon coming book, “LOGAN – Chain of Grace”, is a good example of this. I feel that most readers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, especially once they see how their lives are transformed by what happens in the story. Thus, it is my goal that as a result, readers will see how their own lives can be transformed if they are willing to surrender their all to Christ. (It is mainly for this reason that a couple of my current fiction works in progress have been delayed, but they are coming soon, promise!) But if we continue to settle for being “cookie cutter” authors, just writing the same tired old scenarios others have written, we may never see others’ lives touched like this. It is only in breaking free from the “fit-in-to-what-everyone-else-is-doing” mold that we will ever reach this hidden pinnacle of success in God’s eyes, as He sees it. He has gifted each of us with unique talents and insights, and we will never see these gifts come to fruition as long as we are busy trying to please the world instead of Him. But if we are willing to break free of that limited thinking and rise to His definition of “success”, who knows, we might just pen that best seller anyway. After all, you may never know the lives He wants to touch through you until you hand Him the quill, the pen, or these days, the keyboard/typewriter, and let Him write through you…
So, why don’t we stop being so afraid of losing sales, or missing out on the “big ticket”, or offending someone, and start being more concerned with reaching the world with the special, unique, encouraging, faith-building, life-renewing message that He has chosen you, out of all the other writers in the world, to write. Pray and ask Him to show you the bigger picture of what He has for you, and He will. And throw out the old cookie cutter image of yourself, break the mold, and get out there and get your message into the hands of the readers the Great Author Himself has already chosen for you to reach…

...That, you see, is how it works when you write for the King!

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Besides, He makes BIGGER “cookies”… and no two are the same. We are all unique, just as He meant it to be. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if you let the world miss out on that?   

She Could Have Walked Away: Don’t Miss Your “Ruth” Blessing!

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

– Ruth 1:14-17

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The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth and Boaz

One moment in time. A bereaved mother, and her two daughters-in-law, on their way back to “the land of Judah” (Ruth 1:6-7 NKJV) from Moab after the deaths of both her sons. Two women, grieving for their husbands. One moment that would change everything and alter the course of history. Urged by their weeping mother-in-law to return to their people, both young widows had a decision to make at a moment’s notice that would change their lives one way or the other. With tears in their eyes, they wept, wanting to stay with her. Broken in her grief, with nothing left to offer them, the woman could only urge them to go back to the life they had known. The one kissed her and turned back. The other stood there, no doubt, with tears running down her cheeks as she watched her sister-in-law walk out of her life. She could have just walked away. But the choice she made in that moment would change her life forever. Her name was Ruth.

Have you ever had a “Ruth” moment? I am sure at one time or other, we all will at some point in our lives. For some, it will be the right choice they make in that moment. For others, it will be one they will regret for the rest of their lives.

For Ruth, it was the right choice. She could have chosen to go back to her people in Moab, and their gods. In the eyes of Naomi, her broken-hearted mother-in-law, there was no more reason for either of her daughters-in-law to stay in her life. The tension builds as they both look to her, weeping as they have, at this point, intended to go back with her to her people (Ruth 1:8-10 NKJV). It’s pretty clear that Naomi is thinking of their future, even in her grief, still weeping as she cries out, asking why they would want to stay with her, seeing she is past childbearing age, and knowing that even if she could have more sons, they couldn’t possibly wait until they were grown. The one, Orpah, finally kisses her mother-in-law and walks away. Naomi, looking to Ruth, can only try to get her to see the obvious pointlessness in her staying with her (Ruth 1:15 NKJV): “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Yet, in that pivotal moment, the young, widowed Ruth couldn’t walk away and leave the poor woman to go on alone. In a dark time of faithlessness and everyone doing whatever was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25 NKJV), she chose to be faithful to the God of Israel, and spoke the well-known words that have now been used in many weddings as wedding vows (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV, see above). It was settled. Ruth chose in that moment to let it be firmly known that she would not leave her. In time, she would see God’s reward for her faithfulness.

As the two women reached the city of Bethlehem, you might say they had a pretty big welcome. Yet, when the women asked about her, calling her by her name, Naomi changes her name (Ruth 1:19-21 NKJV) to Mara, which, in Hebrew, means “bitter”, saying God had dealt very bitterly with her. Click here for the meaning and history of the name, “Naomi”.  So, this is a woman who is truly devastated at this point (Verse 21). Yet, before it was all over, God would turn her situation around.

You see, if you think about it, with the state of grief she was in, she could have adamantly ran Ruth off. Yet, instead, she chose to let her go on with her. Verse eighteen of Chapter One reads, “When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her (or, I guess you could say, she saw no further point to argue with her).

But here’s where it gets interesting. In those days, Jewish custom, or law, said that when a woman’s husband died before she could conceive, his brother was to marry her in order to raise children in his brother’s name. For example, in Genesis 38, we read of the story of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah. So, you see now, why Naomi is so grieved for her daughters-in-law, thus, her emotional response to their pleas in verses 11-13 of that first chapter of Ruth:

But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Yet…I’ve gotta say it! BUT GOD!!!! (You had to know there was a “but God” coming!) 😀 So, Ruth was in the right place at the right time. God placed her directly in the path of Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband! You can read the Book of Ruth in like 5 minutes, but I love what he says to her in Ruth 2:11-12, after she asks why she has found favor in his eyes, that he should take notice of her, since she is a foreigner (Verse 10):

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

More and more lately, I believe, as Bishop T.D. Jakes has well said, Nothing Just Happens. In this message, at about 8:10, Bishop Jakes mentions Orpah and Ruth, and talks about this story, so if you’re interested, you can click the link and listen to this excerpt of his message on this. The footsteps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord (see Psalm 37:23)! So, as God’s reward for Ruth’s  undying loyalty to her mother-in-law, and her faithfulness to Him as the God of Israel, she was rewarded with an honored place in the bloodline leading up to the birth of Christ, through (of course) the Tribe of Judah.

The story of Ruth has to be one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible, (2nd only to our Jesus and what He did for us, of course). So, Boaz married Ruth, and they had a son, who was named, Obed. Here, from Ruth 4:13-22, is the wonderful ending to their love story, as only God could write it:

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron;Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab;Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.

Remember when I mentioned Tamar earlier? Well, Perez was one of her twin sons. Even the well-known geneology sites can’t touch this! So, think about this story if you ever have a “Ruth” moment, and trust God. He only writes the best love stories.

So, Naomi found joy again, and no doubt, got lots of cuddles in with that new baby boy. Ruth took her place in history, in the bloodline through the Tribe of Judah, leading to the birth of our Savior. She was the great grandmother of David, and another page turned in Biblical history…

…And she could have just walked away. 

A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

Life’s “Hiccups”- The Cure That Works #HowtoStopHiccups #TheWaterofLifeisFree

 
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:13-14
 
You know, those pesky hiccups can show up without warning, and at the most inopportune times. And when they do, forget even trying to have a conversation! Can you say, “embarrassing”?
 
HICCUPS STOPPING HACK (This works!) –
For all those people like me for whom, nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, works when you get hiccups …
 
So, I found a way to stop hiccups instantly. So far, I have tried it twice, and it works. One of the neat things about the fact that I know God guides my life and my steps is the joy I feel when He guides me even in the smallest things. It’s knowing that He is never “too busy” to be bothered by our concerns. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
 
In ALL your ways…did you get that? And “he SHALL”, not might…  
 
So here you go… (No guarantees here, but just had to share this): If you have a water bottle sitting nearby, and those pesky hiccups start up, here’s what you do:
  1. Pick a number (I did 3) …
  2. Take 3 (or whatever number you chose) sips, then STOP …
  3. Wait and count 5 or 6 seconds, THEN …
  4. Take 3 (or your number) more sips.
  5. Repeat this like 2 or 3 times. 
I have done this twice, as I have had a couple of mornings recently that I actually woke up with hiccups, and both times, it worked. They just stopped instantly, within 2 or 3 repeats of the above steps. Evidently, in processing the sipping, stopping, and counting rhythm, your brain “forgets” to send the signal to keep the hiccups going, and it stops them instantly! Again, no guarantees, and if they keep up, or if you have other issues that might be a factor, you should still follow up with a doctor, but I just thought this was too good not to share. I will be curious to see if it actually works for anyone else. 🙂 
 
…You’re welcome 😀 

Life’s Little (Or Sometimes Not So Little) “Hiccups” …

Just the same, life can be full of “hiccups”, and just like the physical ones, those “bumps in the road” of life can have a way of uprooting everything. Kind of like that hurricane we just had move through our area, Hurricane Florence. Oh, and if you ever visit North Carolina and you ask one of us older folks about Hurricane Fran, make sure you aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
 
Below are links to some of my recent posts that you or someone you know might find helpful. Think of it as that “drink of water” for whatever “hiccups” you may have encountered on life’s road. Click on each link to open the post in a new tab, then look for the buttons below the post to share them with your friends, or like, tweet, or whatever you do!

So How Do You Stop Life’s “Hiccups”?

With the “Water of Life”, of course….
Christian Worship & Scripture Songs (Esther Mui)

I’m not talking about water you drink. This kind of water is found only in God’s Word, The Holy Bible, He gave us, and we can only come to Him through Jesus Christ, His Son, Who died for our sins, and took our punishment so we could have eternal life with Him. John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

My friend, Jesus has provided that water for you, but He will not force you to “drink” it. But I can truly testify to you that if you are willing to receive it, you will never “thirst” again for the things of this world.

No, we cannot stop life’s “hiccups” from coming. We will face those bumps in the road, those storms that often derail us and leave us wanting to give up. But we can face them knowing we do not face them alone, because He has already gone before us to prepare the way, and if He lives within you, as He does me, then you know you are already a fountain of that water, springing up into the everlasting life He has promised to all who will believe. Come get your drink now. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms.

Do you know someone who has suffered from life’s “hiccups”, who could use a “drink of water”? Know someone who would benefit from this information? Please share via the buttons below to share this post, or visit the individual links above to share those posts.

What if YOUR story could change someone’s life?  – Well, start writing already! That book isn’t going to write itself! You can do it, because Philippians 4:13 says you can!

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The Grand Equation: 5 Steps to Finding Peace – God’s Formula for Balancing Out the Equation of Your Life #5StepstoFindingPeace

Do you sometimes feel like your life is out of balance, like there’s something missing?
Does it seem that no matter what you do, things just don’t “add up”?
Would you like to know how you can find that balance and peace in your life?
My friend, there is a way. But are you really seeing the greater picture, or just going by what you can see immediately around you, as it applies to you?
Stay with me here, this gets really good. I know it has helped me. I know this because I have lived it, and found out most of it the hard way. I am currently 52 years old, soon to be 53, and I can honestly say, when you reach this pinnacle on the journey through life, you want to share the wisdom you’ve gained (most of it the hard way if you’re like me) with others, and hopefully maybe prevent someone else from taking the same falls in life you have.
Isaiah 40:31 is a powerful verse that has guided me through some of the rockiest, toughest roads of my life. It reminds us to see that greater picture through the eyes of the eagle:
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
We all go through hurt in this life. Most of us can relate to going through these painful times in our life. People you thought you could trust “stab you in the back”, reject you, judge you without getting the facts. Old unforgiven hurts and grudges. People who have written you off a long time ago. So how do you ever find peace despite it all?
1. Look at the Bigger Picture…From the Greater Perspective of Our Creator
The answer is simple. But you must first understand that you need to look at it from the proper perspective. As humans, we only see what is immediately around us. However, the eagle sees all that is on the ground below. If we pray for God to help us “mount up with wings as eagles” as the above scripture promises we can, then we see the picture through the eyes of that eagle, or closer to God’s perspective, seeing the whole picture.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we tend to see ourselves in the middle of our little “circle of life”, envisioning everyone else and everything in life rotating around us. But in reality, we are not seeing the full picture. It is our Heavenly Father, our Creator, Who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us by His grace, which we didn’t even deserve, Who belongs in the middle of that circle. So, the first thing each of us must do is put Him back in the center of our lives, and stop making it about ourselves.
Hey, I am talking to myself here too, friends. I went through years of heartache, dysfunction, and disappointment, because of the bad choices I made early in my life. I’ve also gone through a lot of undue stress and wasted precious time I cannot get back before I could ever get it through my head that it wasn’t all about me.
But what about all those hurtful situations that we find ourselves going through that we feel we didn’t even deserve? How do we forgive those who have hurt us deeply for no good reason, or treated us unfairly?
2. Forgive, Let Go, and Let God…
Well, first, we forgive them with the same grace Christ was willing to forgive us of our own sin. (See Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, among others).
Romans 12:19 boldly emphasizes this: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
He sees that bigger picture a whole lot better than we do, and He sees the hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him and nothing surprises Him. Besides, we never know that when we show them the love of Christ and forgive, it might just touch their hearts and win them over to Him. When we insist on being angry and getting our own vengeance, we rob Him of that.
Once we see it all from His Grander Perspective and forgive, this closes the door to the enemy being able to further use it to control us, and it opens the door for our loving Heavenly Father to work it to our advantage (see Romans 8:28, Galatians 6:9). Then, we apply a simple formula, which I will share with you here. For that, we’re gonna do some math.
I heard those groans! I know, math was never my best subject either, but this is a simple and time-tested process. I know because I have already been tested on it, so now, I am sharing it with you because I know it will work for you just as it has for me…
I have a chapter in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, called, “God’s Mathematics”…If the “equation” of your life isn’t “balancing out”, try what He has told me (and it won’t, until you do this, trust me, no better yet, trust Him)…
3. Take yourself OUT of the equation.Hey, I know that’s hard, believe me, it was for me. But like I said, in order for this to work, we each and every one have to get this through our stubborn, human heads…it’s not about us. It’s about Him, and what He did for us. It’s also about what is available to us, if we are only willing to believe, trust Him, and put Him back in control. This means total surrender from all the “I deserve, I shoulda, I coulda, I woulda, I’m gonna…”
Let. It. Go. This is the only way it can work. It represents total surrender to Him, the only One Who can save us…even if it means saving us from ourselves first. Trust me when I say, I went through this one “kicking and screaming” – okay, not literally. 😉
4. Put Him (Jesus, our Lord and Savior) in all the places you’ve been putting yourself.
Then…and only then…will it finally start to balance out. Trust me. It works.
For a long time, I held on to resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and the longer I held on to it, the longer I kept making it about “what I felt I should have been entitled to”, what I deserved, ya da ya da… I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it all out myself. It wasn’t until I let all of that go, and turned it all over to Him, and did just what He’d told me, that it all began to work out, and I began to finally have peace.
Now, for no. 5…
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5. Put down the pencil. – That’s right, just give Him the “pencil”!
After all, HE ALREADY HAD YOU FIGURED INTO THE EQUATION – long before you or I were even born. We need only turn to His Word for proof of this…
  • Genesis 15:5 – “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
  • Galatians 3:8-9 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
  • Galatians 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
  • Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
  • Luke 12:7 – “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
  • Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
  • Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

And this one, which speaks for itself, as all of God’s Word does…

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  • Psalm 139:13-16 – “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
The Grand Equation…
Too many times, the hurt, damaged self esteem, and feelings of worthlessness we have suffered at the hands of others leaves us damaged in ways that have left us unable to trust our Heavenly Father, Who only wants the best for us, and created us with His perfect plan in mind for each of us.
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Only He sees the grand equation of the plan He had for our lives, fully balanced out, with all the factors in place, blessings He had originally intended for us, many of which we often forfeit when we insist on being in control and doing things our way. Far too often, we grieve His Spirit when we do this, and we hinder, or delay His ultimate plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 “sums” it up best: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – KJV
The New King James Version renders it this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In truth, it is only in finally letting go, releasing it all to Him, turning the “pencil” over to Him, and trusting Him to balance it all out, in His perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing way, as He sees fit, that we will finally begin to see that we are already a part of a far grander equation than we could have ever dreamed possible. We only see one page, of the greater “book” that He sees, the “bestseller” He penned, with you as the main character, long before you were even born. 
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